Our thirtieth service project on this journey started off more exciting than any we’ve done so far. Our tuk tuk ride to the facility turned out to be a white-knuckle, hair-raising experience as we sped over one of the bumpiest sections of rode we’d been on in Cambodia. Despite having put my children in these open air carriages for dozens of rides around town, this was the first time I questioned the safety of this transportation method. Alison was bouncing four or five inches above the seat and periodically yelling out “Here comes another big one!!”, all the while smiling ear to ear like she was on an amusement park ride. The driver finally slowed down after my repeated shouts over the roar of his motorcycle engine, but by then the road had smoothed out. Needless to say, he won’t be getting our business again.
Despite my brief period of panic, we made it in one piece to our destination: the Caring for Cambodia storage facility. Caring for Cambodia, or CFC, is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in this country. Since 2003, it’s been partnering with the Cambodian government and local communities to increase student retention, build better school facilities, train teachers, and provide health and wellness supports.
One of our tasks with CFC was to help organize and inventory the donations it receives. Individuals, corporations and schools from around the world send CFC a wide variety of in-kind donations. The storage facility in Siem Reap contains everything from student uniforms to school supplies to hygiene items.
The days we spent on this project focused primarily on inventorying dozens of bags of donated uniforms. These are a major need for schools in developing nations where extreme poverty means that the school uniform may be the only clothing a child owns. With the help of two CFC staff members, Vanthai and Sophea, we made our way through a mountain of clothing while jamming to Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the other artists on Vanthai’s phone. Similar to our project with Salem’s in Ethiopia, my spreadsheet skills made an appearance as I created a Google document to help track donated uniforms coming into the facility and going out to schools.
The job isn’t done yet and we’ll be back there in the future to help inventory other donated items. It was great to see these donations being truly valued by the organization and effectively distributed for the good of the students. I was impressed with the CFC staff’s care in making the most of everything they receive. Even clothing too stained to be given out to the students was collected and delivered to a partnering organization which helps local women earn income by creating crafts from used fabric.